When WikiLeaks began strategically dumping more than 250,000 secret U.S. Embassy cables, former American diplomat James Cason wasn't particularly worried that the leaked documents would cause long-term irreparable harm to his country's national interests. ""Generally everything that has been released so far would have been eventually released 20 years down the road," Cason relays from the living room of his Coral Gables residence. "For obvious reasons, those cables should have remained private, but I think they ultimately show the American public what a good job we foreign service officers do."
Now the 67-year-old retiree is hoping his career working abroad for Uncle Sam will help catapult him to the mayor's chair in Coral Gables, a city known for rolling out the welcome mat for diplomats from around the globe.
This week's cover story profiles Cason's illustrious diplomatic career that began in 1970 when he packed up his then-spanking new Chevy Camaro and traveled south to El Salvador, where he worked his first assignment as foreign service officer. He worked in over 19 countries, including a three year stint earlier this decade as chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana. There, Cason became one of Fidel Castro's favorite foils by helping Cuban dissidents learn how to be independent journalists.
Castro despised Cason so much that he created a series of cartoons ridiculing the American diplomat. The clips always began with Cason in his Havana office donning a fairy godmother's outfit in order to magically bring Democratic ideals to Cuba. And the shorts always ended the same way with Cason being chased down by Cuban citizens who wanted nothing to do with United States-branded democracy.